As a founder, one of your goals should be to travel and promote your company through speaking engagements, vending opportunities and just attendance at great events to build your network.
This February, I traveled to BlackTech Week in Miami, my first time speaking and attending. I’ve heard many great things about the conference so it was definitely on my “I have to speak there” list. Once I was added to the roster, I researched the other speakers and was excited to meet everyone (some I already knew from recent press).
One thing I’ve learned as an entrepreneur now for over 10 years is that you are never too “experienced” to learn, or too excited about meeting other cool leaders. You should be teachable as a founder — that means not only teaching yourself, but your team.
I spoke during the GovEduCon Day discussing government contracts and how startups should focus on tapping the $59-billion public-sector market. Our panel was called “Can government contracts bootstrap your startup or small business?” It featuring myself, plus:
- Consultant and entrepreneur Brandon Andrews,
- Consultant and disaster recovery specialist Tim Thompson
- Miami-Dade Beacon Council VP of Economic Development Sheri Colas-Gervais and
- University of Florida Director of Small Business & Vendor Diversity Relations Kathey Porter.
At Stimulus, our mission is to bridge the discovery gap with an award relationship management system — to help discover resources for nonprofits and businesses and connect large organizations, including government, with qualified award applicants.
Being the only startup founder on the panel was cool because we all gave different perspectives on how to work with large entities — and learned there are possibilities for us to collaborate on projects.
I was able to not only showcase my expertise but pitch Stimulus to the potential clients and investors in the audience (we have pretty cool meetings set up over the next few weeks).
My encouragement for startup founders is to leave your comfort zone.
The pro and con of Philly is you become so comfortable here that you forget to look beyond your current surroundings. I’ve heard from many newbies that even if you are not from here, once you arrive to what we call the “City of Neighborhoods” it makes you feel like you’ve been living here forever.
As a founder, especially a black founder, I encourage you to attend conferences like BlackTech Week or invite them to your city especially if you see that your city is missing something specifically for you (your culture).
It was great to run into tech leaders from Philly (nobody told each other we were going, lol) in another city knowing you were all there speaking about your accomplishments — it’s a priceless feeling that you share with a Philly nod of: “Yeah you know what that is, it’s called growth.”